Choose Hospitality Pledge issues industry call to promote hospitality to secondary school children

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An industry alliance spearheaded by Nestlé Professional today asked hospitality ambassadors to step forward to promote the industry to young people. The ‘Choose Hospitality Pledge’ includes Choose Hospitality, CareerScope, Springboard, and a growing number of hospitality and industry leaders. Partners were brought together by Nestlé Professional following its research revealing that young people have negative perceptions of the sector. To address this, the alliance is mobilising a team of hospitality ambassadors, tasked with visiting secondary schools across the UK to give young people an inspiring and comprehensive picture of the hospitality sector.

More than 40% of hospitality businesses now face skilled worker shortages, over the next 5 years, the situation is expected to get worse, with experts forecasting a 13-14 million talent gap for positions suitable for hospitality graduates. To understand why the hospitality sector is finding it particularly hard to recruit talent, Nestlé Professional commissioned MMR Research to speak to young jobseekers, young hospitality professionals and industry influencers from across the UK.

The research revealed that, although some young job seekers are interested in the industry, many view it as a ‘back-up career’, with long hours and hard work. These negative perceptions are fuelled by insufficient information and a lack of ambassadors they can relate to. When it comes to advice, more than 1 in 4 young people ask people already working in the industry, valuing their advice over that of their teacher or careers advisers. Fortunately, 62% of the young people working in hospitality say they love their role, indicating an untapped pool of potential ambassadors. 

To address this, Nestlé Professional has convened the ‘Choose Hospitality Pledge’, encouraging hospitality businesses and rising industry stars to put themselves forward as industry ambassadors. Hospitality leaders including Whitbread, Compass, Sodexo, Elior and PACE have already pledged support, plus industry organisations such as Bridging the Skills Gap and the Institute of Hospitality. These will be promoting the scheme and providing ambassadors to send out to schools in each region. Ambassadors will be given specially developed materials, speaking aids and opportunities at their local schools to help them engage youngsters and promote a career in the industry.

Katya Simmons, managing director Nestlé Professional UK&I says: 

“Hospitality businesses are more than twice as likely as other industries to experience challenges filling vacancies. We were keen to understand why, so we could highlight ways in which our industry could come together to deal with these issues.”

“We learned that a lack of clear information and advice from key influencers has led to a serious image problem for the industry. Yet at the same time we have an untapped resource of bright, young individuals who could be inspiring and educating young people on hospitality careers.

“Given the severity of current recruitment challenges, it’s important that we act now. The Choose Hospitality Pledge is all about galvanising up-and-coming hospitality superstars. Helping us to get young people excited about our industry again, and showcasing hospitality as a stimulating, flexible and incredibly rewarding career.”

Amanda McDade, CareerScope says:

“Forging industry and education links is one of the most effective ways to highlight the vibrant and diverse job roles in hospitality. There are plenty of inspiring industry ambassadors out there who are passionate about their job and the industry and keen to showcase these.

“Springboard’s Ambassador programme is already doing an amazing job, connecting industry ambassadors with young people. We’re looking forward to sending even more ambassadors out into schools through the Choose Hospitality Pledge. Because only through giving schoolchildren a solid understanding of hospitality at an early age can we start to nurture and inspire future industry talent.”

Claire Bosi, Choose Hospitality says:

“The UK’s hospitality sector is incredibly diverse and varied, making it one of the most exciting sectors to work in world-wide. Despite this, there’s still very low awareness around the roles available to young people, and the potential for them to progress fast. Our hard-hitting team of ambassadors at Choose Hospitality do a fantastic job, inspiring young jobseekers to consider a career in the sector. We’re looking forward to working with others in the alliance, taking inspiring ambassador out to schools, so they can start working their magic even earlier!

Gemma Raby, Whitbread says:

“Young people have joined Whitbread, and no doubt countless other hospitality businesses, with no academic qualifications, and have gone on to have fantastic, fulfilling careers at a senior level. It’s a well-kept secret, but it shouldn’t be. 

“Hospitality isn’t about entry level, no skill or experience required roles, it’s a place where young people can start in these roles and quickly progress to senior level, be that running their own business, developing menus and food offerings or in finance, digital and tech or learning and development roles.

“At Whitbread, we’re committed to being a Force for Good in the communities in which we operate. We were already taking action, promoting hospitality to local secondary schools before we heard about the Choose Hospitality Pledge. Now we’re excited about expanding and supporting the reach of this activity, working alongside other members in the alliance.”  

Published: 13th February 2023

Last edited: 13th February 2023